I like to check out the different collecting forums on occasion. There are a lot of knowledgeable collectors posting interesting and helpful topics on these boards.
Unfortunately, one of the common posts I see is about someone leaving the hobby. Often, the collector states they are tired of the high costs of cards or they are tired of trying to keep up with the ever expanding product lines.
I’m not knocking anyone’s approach to collecting. I love reading about all the different ways people collect; whether it be set building, massive player collections, or cards that feature odd themes like mustaches or serial numbers. It’s all good and it’s up to the individual to decide what they enjoy.
What I would like to do is offer some advice to those who are feeling overwhelmed and are thinking of leaving the hobby. If this is you, maybe it’s time to simplify things and take a different approach. There are many ways to do this but I’ll just give one suggestion here.
Build vintage team sets of your favorite team.
First, pick your favorite team (that’s the easy part). Second, pick up an empty card album and fill it with a bunch of 8 & 9 pocket plastic pages to hold cards. Third, create check lists of Topps cards for your team from somewhere in the mid 1960’s to the mid 1970’s. Fourth, plan on picking up a few cards to start your new, simple collection. Fifth, and most important, DO NOT WORRY ABOUT CONDITION!
Your long term goal is to just build team sets of your favorite team from the years when Topps was the only producer 1952 – 1980. Don’t worry about the sets in the 1950’s just yet or the fact that Bowman produced cards in the early 50’s.
The cards from the mid 60’s to early 70’s are actually quite affordable if you don’t stress about condition, even the hall of famers can be inexpensive in many cases. The cards from these years are also easy to find at almost any card show, on ebay, and at other online stores.
As you pick up the cards just put them in your album by year. Take your time and buy a handful of cards each month. You’ll be surprised at how fast your collection will build up but how long it will take to complete. There is a nice balance between progress and challenge in this approach.
If you’re a Yankees fan or like another team with some expensive ‘key’ cards don’t worry. Look for some really damaged cards to fill the holes or even better, just look for a reprint card. Maybe someday you’ll have a little extra money to buy the real thing.
As you’re working on these team sets you’ll probably find some good deals for cards from the 50’s or even the key cards. Don’t get impatient and start trying to find these deals, let them come to you. Pick a dealer or two and a show and work with them overtime. Dealers will often put things aside for you and give you good deals if you are a repeat customer.
I could go on and on but my point here is that before you leave something you once enjoyed so much, take a step back. Collecting probably didn’t seem complicated when you first started because you kept it simple. Maybe it’s time to take a step back.